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					                           2009



          THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY FOR THE
            AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY




            GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE
INTERIM REPORT OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY INQUIRY ON
       ACT GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTION TARGETS


                  TABLING STATEMENT




                                                  Presented by
                                          Mr Simon Corbell MLA
        Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water
                       Carbon Neutral Canberra by 2060

Mr Speaker, I am pleased today to table the ACT Government response to the
Interim Report of the Assembly’s Inquiry into ACT Greenhouse Gas Reduction
Targets.

On 15 September 2009, the Standing Committee on Climate Change,
Environment and Water released its first report on the Inquiry and announced its
intention to provide a final report in March 2010.

I would like to thank the Committee for its comprehensive report and overview
of the key issues.

I would also like to thank the many individuals and organisations who made
submissions and to those who appeared at the eleven public hearings.

The clear message from the inquiry is that we need to act now, that climate
change is having real and direct impacts on our local environment right now and
that cities, like our own, can show leadership and make a real contribution to
reducing greenhouse gas emissions

The report states: “there is a strong case for ambitious action”. In effect it says
we need to take steps as soon as possible to reduce our emissions.

Mr Speaker, it is also important to highlight that the Committee noted that the
case for inaction because we are a “small jurisdiction” or a “small greenhouse
gas producer” is nonsense. We all have responsibility to reduce our greenhouse
gas footprint as soon as possible.

Indeed the Committee endorsed my own comments to the Inquiry that: “we have
a very strong moral obligation to future generations to adopt stronger and more
visionary targets”.

As Members are aware the science of climate change is constantly evolving, and
the Government’s view is the outcome we must seek is a safe climate, for now
and into the future. Targets we set should aim to achieve this. A safe climate
that does not put in jeopardy or undermine our ability to maintain existing
ecosystems; a safe climate that does not jeopardise our ability to have reliable
food, water and energy supplies; and a safe climate that does not contribute to
social disintegration and lack of social cohesion.

The establishment of this Inquiry was one of my first priorities as Minister for
Environment, Climate Change and Water, and the Assembly subsequently



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agreed to the terms of Reference for the ACT Greenhouse Gas Reduction
Targets Inquiry in December last year.

At the time I noted the time frame was ambitious in the context of a complex
policy issue, and the extensive nature of the Terms of Reference. However, then
as now, I am committed to moving the debate on from what the targets should
be and into the real and practical detail of what we need to do to make those
targets achievable. Because while targets are important, measures to actually
reduce greenhouse gas emissions must become the priority for all Members in
this place, and for the broader community.

The ACT’s emissions have increased at a rate of 1.7 per cent since the year
2000. Another way to measure this is that emissions per Canberran increased at
the rate of 0.7% per year while nationally they decreased at 0.6% per year. Our
emissions have increased faster than the national average, and now we must take
action to reverse this trend. Recognising this earlier this year I announced that
the ACT Government had adopted that aim of achieving zero net emissions, or
carbon neutrality for our City.

Today I am pleased to announce the ACT Government has set a target for our
city to become carbon neutral – to achieve zero net emissions – by 2060.

Zero net emissions or carbon neutrality is still an emerging concept however its
broad meaning is accepted as:
   • That energy use is reduced as far as possible, through energy efficiency;
   • That wherever possible energy comes from renewable sources;
   • That the remaining greenhouse gas emissions are offset; and
   • That for emissions which we are not responsible – i.e. arising from air
      travel, we measure the emissions and offset as far as is practicable.

The Government recognises there are ambiguities around offsetting and
therefore a key part of our forward policy work will be to develop an offset
policy. I would also reiterate the importance of the first two steps ahead of
offsetting. That is reducing energy use as far as possible and switching our
energy supply to renewable sources.

Addressing climate change is the greatest challenge facing the modern world
today. How the global community responds to climate change will determine the
shape of all future generations.

The ACT Government has accepted the challenge. We have embarked upon an
ambitious reform agenda. We want Canberra to set the standard for a truly
sustainable city. We recognise we need to do this with the community. We
recognise decisions taken by this generation will affect all future ones.

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In particular the issue of taking action early to reduce emissions is recognised as
the most cost effective approach, and avoids greater expense and difficulties
with making the transition to a low carbon economy later. Therefore I can
confirm today that the Government has agreed with the Committee’s
recommendation to the short-term target of reaching a peak in our [per capita]
greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2013.

Our preliminary analysis from the work my Department has undertaken over the
last year indicates these are both ambitious yet realistic goals. Both targets
reflect our serious intent to reduce our carbon footprint.

The Committee report which I’m responding to today is a solid and considered
report. It identifies the need for action. It takes up the challenge of climate
change for our City.

In tabling today the Government’s response to the inquiry into ACT Greenhouse
Gas Reduction Targets I can confirm that the Government is adopting the broad
direction of the recommendations of the report.

Of the thirty-one recommendations presented the Government agrees with 13
recommendations and agrees in principle with 16.
The Government notes 2 of the recommendations and does not disagree with
any of the recommendations.

Those recommendations where we agree in principle or simply note them relate
to the need to await the outcomes from other processes such as the final shape of
the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and the international climate change
negotiations soon to take place in Copenhagen. Or alternatively to the
mechanics of how we might go about putting in place arrangements to deliver
the intent of the recommendation, rather than substantive disagreement.
Therefore in essence we effectively support the intent of all of the
recommendations. However we do need to get the detail of it right.

So for instance, Recommendation 5 states the proposed legislation should set a
target 40% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

The Government intends to set a medium term target as high as possible – and
recognises a medium term target should be in the range of 25 to 40%. However
this needs to occur with close regard for the equity of the targets. The
Government will look at the role the government must play to ensure that
support is provided for those in the community least able to pay for additional
energy costs. This support might be in the form of assistance to reduce energy
needs by retrofitting buildings or replacing energy-hungry appliances, and also


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through improvements to the community service obligation payments
arrangements

Also as the Committee recommendation notes, in order to fully consider an
ambitious medium term target we need to assess the final outcomes of the
Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, we need to assess the outcomes from
Copenhagen and we need to assess the information from our consultancies
which will guide us on the cost and benefits and deliverables of various policy
options. I look forward to bringing proposals to the Assembly next year.

Overall though we support the broad direction of the Committee’s
recommendations. I am very pleased with this outcome, as I’m sure the
members of the Committee would be.

It is particularly pleasing that we might be able to develop a political consensus,
an agreed way forward with bi-partisan support on this most pressing policy
issue of our times.

A key part of this process has always been the introduction of ACT legislation to
set in place specific ACT Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets.

The Government agrees with the Committee that any targets we set will not be
enforceable in a legislative sense. There will not be penalties for non-
compliance. However, the legislation will mandate regular reporting on how we
as a community are tracking in our efforts to meet our greenhouse gas reduction
targets. The setting of targets in legislation will also send a strong policy signal
of where we are heading.

In considering the shape of the legislation the Government will look at the South
Australian and Tasmanian legislation. The Government will also consider
overseas legislative models. So for instance consideration will be given to the
UK Climate Change Act introduced last year.

I intend to ensure that legislation to give effect to our greenhouse gas reduction
targets is introduced into this Assembly in the first half of next year.

The next step in order to progress delivery of our commitment to reduce our
greenhouse gas emissions is the next action plan under Weathering the Change.
Action Plan 2.

My Department has commissioned expert consultants to assist in assessing
options and developing a pathway to carbon neutrality for the ACT. The work
will be completed by the end of the year and is critical to working out the most
cost-efficient ways of meeting our gaol of a carbon neutral Canberra by 2060.


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Key initiatives being considered in the development of Action Plan 2 are:
  a) Mandatory targets for energy utilities to achieve set reductions in
      greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency;
  b) Measures to accelerate the uptake of Greenpower;
  c) Development of a greenhouse gas offsets policies, in particular to offset
      emissions from the gas and transport sectors in a way that optimises
      benefits for the ACT
  d) Development of an ACT Greenlease Policy to drive significant
      improvements in the energy efficiency of offices rented by the ACT
      Government;
  e) A review of planning and building regulations to identify opportunities
      for reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  f) Investigation of opportunities for increasing use of co-generation and tri-
      generation and other low emissions distributed energy technologies in the
      ACT;
  g) Development of a framework to achieve carbon neutrality in ACT
      Government operations. Possible elements being considered include:
      climate change risk assessments, annual Government agency carbon
      budgets implemented through performance commitments in Chief
      Executive contracts and enhanced reporting in ACT Budget documents.

Action Plan 2 will set out the pathway of how we will achieve our greenhouse
gas reduction targets and the speed with which we can do so.

I’m pleased to inform you today, Mr Speaker, that I will be releasing our draft
energy policy before Christmas.

In tabling the Government response to the Interim Report of the Inquiry into
ACT Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets – I would like to acknowledge the
important role this Inquiry can play in building a political consensus to finding
local and sustainable solutions to climate change. I thank the Committee for
delivering a well considered and comprehensive interim report and I forward to
receiving the final report in March 2010.




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